Gore Whitewater Park Impact on Fish Passage - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-07-2018   #1
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Gore Whitewater Park Impact on Fish Passage

Another thread mentioned a proposed play park potentially impacting fish passage, and a linked article stated that the Gore park cut off fish passage.

Snake play park faces hurdles

From the article:

...After hearing of the proposal, Senecal researched similar in-river whitewater parks in the United States, which are typically found in smaller waterways in urban areas. The closest comparison she could find in terms of design and nature of the river is a channel-spanning whitewater park located in Gore Canyon of the Colorado River, just downstream of Kremmling, Colorado.

Itís a $1.7 million project that Colorado Fish, Wildlife and Parks research biologists have determined is almost a complete barrier to fish movement ó blocking 90-plus percent of passage for sucker species.
While it seems like the rapids upstream of the Gore play park would certainly impede fish passage more than the park, is anyone else aware of this issue?



Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 12-07-2018   #2
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I am not. I'm really only aware of Brennan's Wave in Missoula...and it's only 1/3 to 1/2 of the river's width; the other side of the river is still green flow.

If there's a singular riverwide feature in the river...and no other rapids or high-velocity flows, it sure makes some sense.
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Old 12-07-2018   #3
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What about the rapids down stream of pumphouse? They must impede fish movement too
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Old 12-07-2018   #4
GJ, Colorado
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Originally Posted by Andy H. View Post
Another thread mentioned a proposed play park potentially impacting fish passage, and a linked article stated that the Gore park cut off fish passage.
There's a lot of emotion on display in the linked article.

It's hard to imagine how a WW park could have the impact some are proclaiming. It's not a lowhead dam -- it's a wave and some boulders, and none of them run riverwide.

I wasn't at the meeting, only read the article, but it sounds like lots of knee jerking is happening without a complete understanding of what's being proposed.
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Old 12-07-2018   #5
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They have been working on planning and permitting for a wave in salmon for about five years now. The original plan was to be in town on the west "main" channel. They faced several hurdles along with river velocities and the fact that the salmon actually has Anadromous fish that need passage. The bigger features on the west channel have been scrapped for one feature in the smaller east channel.

I have a hard time believing that any feature could be harder than blacks creek rapid, or any of the fish ladders and dams down river, but it is what it is.
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Old 12-12-2018   #6
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Don't know much about this species of fish, but there are certainly natural river features as large and larger than the WW park at Pumphouse less than a mile upstream of the Pumphouse wave, so if it has affected the fish upstream habitat, it hasn't affected much of it.

I've seen some sort of trout jumping up Tunnel before.
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Old 12-12-2018   #7
Fort Collins, Colorado
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I work on fish passage projects for a living. (Engineer).

It is true that fish ladders can be added/incorporated into artificial river features. But - it's not entirely straightforward and is almost never as good as a natural river. There is just more variation for the different ways different types of fish move in a natural river. (Think small eddies that fish rest in, think about how some fish are jumpers, some fish are strong swimmers and some fish use there little suckers to cling onto something, rest and then whip their tails to propel themselves up to the next boulder). Because fish ladders cost money, engineers are trying to economize it as much as possible - which means we sometimes are designing it for one species rather than all species.

While there are in most rivers, obstacles that seem as difficult as an artificial river may be, a few other things to keep in mind -
Sometimes fish only make it above a particular feature during a particular water flow - and it is an obstacle at other flows (think of washed out drops). It isn't great for fish if they get the flow they need to get past one obstacle, but then are stopped by a new obstacle.
Also every obstacle that a fish has to overcome, expends a lot of energy. The more energy that gets used up, the shorter the distance they are moving upstream. This means they may not reach the habitat they need, or the habitat may be more crowded.
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